My Mom's now at home from the hospital under hospice care, and the time that once was measured in years and months is now measured in days and hours. Funny how that makes thoughts pop into your head that somehow you never had before. Mom was born in 1927, a few weeks after Lindy showed the world how Lucky he really was by landing safely in Paris. Babe Ruth was in the process of hitting his 60 home runs that year. As for the rest of what happened in 1927, you can go look that up online.
Mom grew up in a farm house that borders the cemetary where she will be buried. A typical family farm of that generation that is no more. Oh, the house is still there (barely), and the barn is still sturdy and standing, and the concrete silo erected just before my uncle left farming could be there for another 500 years, who knows? She grew up in the 1930's, and graduated from high school in 1945. She married my Dad in 1948. 59 years, but not 60. In 1998 they sailed to England on the QE II for their 50th anniversary. Flew back on the Concorde. If you asked me to name three people who have flown faster than the speed of sound, they would be 1. Chuck Yeager, 2. Mom, and 3. Dad.
Dad graduated from high school in 1943, was wounded in the Pacific in 1944, and was discharged from the Army in 1945. At the last minute we finally began honoring men like my Dad, the men of the Greatest Generation, but still even now we never think to honor the gals like my Mom who waited patiently for their guys to come home. Typical high school sweethearts. Waiting at home. Somehows it never occurs to us to honor that waiting. And the homecoming. And the getting things back to normal after the war. Like I said, I never thought about this before either.
And for some, the waiting never ended. My Mom's brother married a woman whose first husband was killed in Normandy, a couple of days after D-Day. He's still over there, under one of those thousands of crosses dotting the French countryside. His struggle ended in 1944, when my aunt's struggle began. The widows, they muddled through, and built a new life as best they could. But we never thought to honor that struggle.
Maybe on Veterans' Day we should stop for an extra moment and remember the Women of the Greatest Generation as well. Wherever they are, I'm sure their fellows won't mind.
UPDATE: My Mom passed away at home in the early morning hours of Sunday, December 2, 2007.